The offence of infanticide is designed to cover the situation where a mother has killed her child under the age of 12 months in circumstances where the mother is not fully responsible for her actions.
INFANTICIDE AND DIMINISHED RESPONSIBILITY
The offence was introduced by the Infanticide Act 1938 and it predates the introduction of the defence of diminished responsibility. The offence has survived the introduction of the defence of diminished responsibility as it can be charged from the outset of proceedings and can be used to avoid charging a women with murder or manslaughter.
Section 1 of the Act states that:
Where a woman by any wilful act or omission causes the death of her child being a child under the age of twelve months, but at the time of the act or omission the balance of her mind was disturbed by reason of her not having fully recovered from the effect of giving birth to the child or by reason of the effect of lactation consequent upon the birth of the child, then, if the circumstances were such that but for this Act the offence would have amounted to murder or manslaughter, she shall be guilty of an offence, to wit of infanticide, and may for such offence be dealt with and punished as if she had been guilty of the offence of manslaughter of the child.
MURDER AND INFANTICIDE
When a defendant is charged on an indictment for murder the jury may find her not guilty of murder but guilty of infanticide.
If the prosecution seeks to prove murder against a mother the burden is on the prosecution to prove that it is not a case of infanticide.
Infanticide has been criticised as the disturbance of the mother’s mind must be due to either the mother not having fully recovered from the effect of giving birth or to the effect of lactation consequent upon the birth of her child which are criteria now regarded as narrow and outdated.
EXPERT CRIMINAL DEFENCE LAWYERS
Our criminal solicitors have extensive experience of defending sensitive cases. We realise that cases of infanticide are acutely distressing and our lawyers will ensure your case is dealt with appropriately. Our solicitors have significant experience of instructing the country’s leading psychiatrists and medical experts.
If you have been charged with murder or infanticide please contact us to discuss your case in confidence with an experienced criminal defence solicitor.